IN CONVERSATION WITH GIORGIO GERARDI
Everyday in life we seem to be on autopilot. Going about our daily life without really noticing what we are surrounded by everyday. We are so used to their presence that we no longer notice their existence. We see them but it as if we do not see them. Italian visual artist Giorgio Gerardi is one artist who started to take notice of the banality in his home and in his local environment. “Everyday we repeatedly use objects that we constantly have under our eyes. How many times do we open the refrigerator? How many times do we take the water bottle?”
Giorgio was born in Mestre, a few kilometres from Venice, living there for many years, up until recently he moved to Favaro Veneto with his whole family. Having always had an interest in the history of art, Giorgio started his own personal research with the use of a camera. In his latest projects he is ‘seeing’ his environment, interested in the clouds, leaves and trees, earth, sand, and daily objects.
In his “Daily” project, Giorgio wanted to represent everyday objects and to decontextualise them. He wanted to rework a single photograph several times, in different ways, until he was able to get the shapes and colours he likes. Giorgio has now given these everyday objects their own assumed identity and a new creative life.
"The things we see without seeing."
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Mestre in 1953, few kilometers away from Venice, and I lived there for many years, until I recently moved to Favaro Veneto with my whole family. When I was younger, I tried to enter the professional world of photography, which has always been one of my biggest passions, but the journey would have been too long and I wanted to be independent straight away and have a family. I have worked most of my life in the credit sector, and I had to limit the amount of time for cultivating my interests, given that my spare time was mostly dedicated to my wife and raising my kids. A couple of years ago I retired and I am now finally able to fully devote myself to what I did when I was 20/27 years old, taking back the old projects of mine.
How did you get involved in photography? What is it that is so special to you?
When I was a child, I received a camera as a present, which to me at the beginning represented a way to close reality within a frame. Around the age of twenty I started my own research; I was struck by the avant-garde of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, and by the research of photographers such as Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Ugo Mulas, Franco Fontana, Luigi Ghirri. Moreover, I was interested in the artistic currents of Minimalism and Conceptualism.
All of these experiences interested me mostly because they focused on the analysis of the photographic medium, its language and on the search for new forms of expression, new compared to the tradition. As typical in the spirit of the avant-garde, they were much closer to a discourse relative to the analysis of the visual instrument rather than to the staging of reality, to its representation, as the history of photography had instead accustomed us. It is not for nothing that Man Ray was part of Dadaism and Surrealism, and László Moholy-Nagy of the Bauhaus.
What’s the story behind your project ‘DAILY’ submitted? What inspired it and when did it begin? What do you want the viewer to experience and take away with them?
Every day we repeatedly use objects that we constantly have under our eyes. How many times do we open the refrigerator? How many times do we take the water bottle?
On a daily basis, we are always surrounded by the same things; we are so used to their presence that we no longer notice them, we no longer see them; even if our eyes rest on them, we do not notice them and it is as if we do not see them.
The ‘Daily’ project was created precisely to stage everyday objects; I photographed ordinary items, an unmade bed, the inside of a refrigerator, a dishwasher, trying to highlight certain details by extracting them from their context, to make them almost take on a life of their own, their own identity. I drew heavily from the Hyperrealist current, born after Pop Art in the second half of the past century, and in which detail assumes great importance. But I was also influenced by the concept of “ready made”, where an object of common use is isolated from its context to be perceived as a work of art, in Duchamp’s style.
I wanted and I want the viewer who looks at these images to be able to “see” the represented subject, to perceive it in a different way than how he experiences it every day. I hope I have succeeded, at least in part.
Can you explain your post-processing work to get to your final image. When do you know you have finished an image?
In the Daily project, the important thing for me was trying to obtain images that were as neutral and aseptic as possible, which would highlight the details of the photographed subjects. In working these series, I pushed the contrast to the maximum by playing on curves and colors.
I finish my work when I feel satisfied with what I have done, when the image has shapes and colors that satisfy me and in these series I was interested in highlighting details of everyday objects, as well as trying to treat them with a technique that came as close as possible to the style of Hyperrealism.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
In regards to photography, I believe that in a previous answer I already gave a broad idea of the artists who interests me, and these are Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Ugo Mulas, Franco Fontana, and Luigi Ghirri. But the beauty of art of course is not limited to what we see, but it also extends to what we can hear and listen to. I do love music and I would say that among my favorite musicians there are Philip Glass and Terry Riley. I may even add that their music influenced my artistic formation; repetition is a constant in their works, repetition alternating with continuous and slight diversities, which make repetition itself mutate, change, while remaining “repetition”.
If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day…who would you choose? And why?
I would spend a day with the Italian photographer Franco Fontana, to talk and not to take pictures, so that he could tell me about his experience and how he lived the photographic medium and the images he managed to take. I’ve always liked the way he portrays the landscape, which is both classic and abstract and minimal at the same time. I think that his images, taken from the Seventies, marked an important step in the history of photography.
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?)
I don’t use any particular equipment; I have a Canon Eos 550D with a focal length of 18-55 mm, with which I take 90% of the images, and I also use my Xiaomi Mi T9 mobile phone. The main part of my work is focused in post-production, and therefore in the use of digital graphics programs, especially Photoshop and Gimp.
What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
My main goal is to make my work known to an ever-growing audience, and slowly I manage to get published more and more often in magazines and on web pages. I hope to be able to continue on this path for other five years from now and even more. I also hope to be able to reach the world of galleries and interior designing, so that I could hang some of my images in private and public spaces.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Lately I’ve been working on the DETAILS project; one of the first series was “Fireplace”. In these last series it is hard to even recognise the original subject, as the detail takes a life of its own. What interests me is not a mere representation of the real object; I want the result to be a set of shapes and colors that I like.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
I like to take long walks, I like to read, especially art history books; I also love listening to music as you might have guessed from a previous answer of mine.”